Over the past four years I have been involved with a Saturday morning league team in Ahoghill. Playing
in a very strong Ballymena Saturday Morning League (BSML), my local team Ahoghill Rovers had moved
up the divisions and reached the top division just last season. We competed well at this level but as the
season went on the extra commitment seemed to take its toll. Then when a few of the coaching staff
and committee members moved on, I was left carrying the brunt of the practicalities of running a team
almost single handed!

Having taken on the team as part of my ministry, in the early days with lots of help with the running of
the team, I was able to concentrate more on the formation of a Christian Players Group. This was a
great success as we would stay after training on Thursdays to have fellowship together. On a good
night we could have as many as twelve guys opening God’s word and praying for one another. We also
took time to pray for our unsaved team mates before inviting them along to testimony nights throughout
the season. This was my passion but as the responsibilities for running the team fell more and more on
myself, the group seemed to fade away and I felt helpless to do anything about it.

I began to wonder what was going on and since I was also away quite a bit during the preseason I had
to make the decision to step down as manager. Unfortunately, my beloved team staggered on for a while
until the committee made the decision that they were not going to be able to compete at first division
level and therefore pulled out of the league!!I was disappointed yet relieved at being released from all that
extra practical work, and now I was left confused as to what God would have me do.

Having been involved with the League Council throughout my time, I had made a lot of good contacts
over the years and had actually been given the opportunity at the end of season dinner to speak about my
work with Ambassadors before “giving thanks” for the food. This was a big step and set me to thinking
about how I could build on this. During my time in limbo, I received an email from Philip Mitchell of Sports
Chaplaincy UK, about an information evening for existing Chaplains throughout Northern Ireland, with an
invitation to anyone thinking about Chaplaincy!!

What a timely email this was, and as I attended and learned more, I sensed God calling me to be the first
ever Chaplain to the BSML. This will be another step outside of my comfort zone, but with the backing
and support of the guys at Sports Chaplaincy UK, I feel it is something that I have a passion to do.

Much of this work will just be as a presence throughout the teams on training nights and Saturday games.
I will make myself available to those who are struggling with issues to come and speak to me at perhaps
low points in their life. I will, with their permission be able to speak of the one who is their greatest need,
Jesus Christ, as well as helping with their practical problems. I will have access to many professional
bodies through Sports Chaplaincy UK, where I feel more expertise is needed in the situations I will face.
What a wonderful way to reach out to not only the one team but to the entire 36 teams in the league. I
will also be able to avail of training courses, as I develop and equip myself to serve God to the best of my
ability, knowing that where I fall short, He will carry me through.

Derek Livingstone